Aurecon thinking: People at the centre

People at the centre

It's about people, not buildings or technology

Aurecon recently met with a multi-million dollar telecommunications company about building some swish headquarters. “We want the latest technology. We want high tech!” reads the wish list. “Why?” we countered. The reply was astounding.

The company faces a war for talent and needed to create a place where talented programmers would want to work. Asking “Why?” and thereby uncovering the real purpose of the building would re-shape how we designed the building.

Very often, we get so caught up in the technology involved in buildings of the future, focusing on everything from building management system apps and information screens to automated elevators and rooms that are air conditioned and lit a few seconds before occupants enter them, that we forget who a building is ultimately designed for: people.

Building design is not (only) about bits and bytes, but flesh and bones – we need to take a step back and remember that humans are at the centre of everything we design. Buildings of the future are about designs that unlock human potential. High tech is only high value if that same technology enhances human experience.

At construction company Laing O’Rourke, baby Capybaras can be found running around on the big screens in their staff breakout area. It doesn’t take rocket science to see why. 

The construction company understands that cute, furry animals and buildings of the future have everything in common – as found in a Hiroshima University study. Both can set off endorphins, help combat stress and profoundly elevate moods. This clever use of technology to unlock human emotion is having impressive bottom line benefits.

What do buildings of the future look like?

We asked people on the street what they wanted buildings of the future to be like – to imagine what their building could do or say to them, their views on data collection, and how their building could make them more productive in the workplace.

People have become more aware of their rights, safety, health and comfort requirements.

Watch our video to hear their thoughts. 

Play video Buildings of future part 3 landing video thumbnail

Our People at the centre insights explore:

  • Why designing for humans is really important
    According to the British Design Council, salaries of occupants constitutes 85 per cent of a company’s annual budget, while just 6.5 per cent goes on construction and 8.5 per cent on furnishing, maintaining and operating the facility. Humans are quite obviously the biggest expense. Instead of focusing on conventional business drivers and environmental imperatives, the spotlight needs to shift to the results of post-occupancy research in building design, answering questions such as: What building functions do we really use? How do we use them? Is it making our jobs more efficient?
  • Buildings were never meant to operate in isolation from users; rather in ‘synchronisation’
    Creating buildings that are both intellectually and emotionally intelligent will be the currency in the future as their effect on the wellness, happiness and productivity of employees, students, residents and visitors becomes more evident.
  • Designing for efficiency and demonstrable ROI is a three-stage process, starting from design and construction through to operation.

As we head into an unknown future, let’s make sure our aim is not to design ‘rocket ships’, but rather buildings that will enable their occupants to reach for the stars.

Is it time to think like Luddites before jumping straight into technology? It does seem like making humans the centre of everything we design will be the only way for building owners, developers and users to get ahead in years to come.

Explore our insights

Human-centred equals future-focused

Putting people at the centre of the design process forces us to change our focus to the future – how will we work and live in the future and what do we need to do now to be ready for that evolution?

Building design is not (only) about bits and bytes, but flesh and bones – we need to take a step back and remember that humans are at the centre of everything we design. Buildings of the future are about designs that unlock human potential and encourage us to think and innovate for a world we can only imagine.


Baby on a mat with buildings


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